Posts Tagged 'Professional Organizer'

Organized for Student Success, Part 5: Organize Their Space

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

As your student(s) begin their new school year, take the opportunity to work with them in organizing their bedroom and clothing. Use the same basic steps outlined in Organizing a Study Area, in my previous post; Organized for Success, Part 4: Organize the Student .

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out drawers, clothes and any bins that are storing clothing
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as Underclothes, Sports Clothes, Uniforms, School Clothes, Dress Clothes etc.
  • Toss old or worn clothes and donate outgrown, seldom worn, or out of style clothes. The biggest pitfall is keeping more clothes than you actually can use or have room for. Be realistic in what you are keeping.
  • Return the keep pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you may need. Assign a specific space for each sub category of clothing.
  • Store often used clothing close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used items. Store off-season clothes in a clearly labeled bin or under-the-bed container.
  • Be careful not to over-stuff drawers and closets. You will go a long way in helping your child stay organized by actually providing a space for all of their belongings and then making it both easy and accessible to put them away.
  • Make use of storage space, which is often overlooked, such as the backs of doors or inside of closets to mount hooks, racks, or pockets. Use hooks for storage

    Beautiful and Functional Possibilities by The Container Store

    of everyday items such as sweatshirts, pajamas, robes, and towels. If your child doesn’t have many hanging clothes, install shelves in half of their closet for additional folded clothes or for toy storage.

Now that you know what your child owns and what needs they may have, you can still take advantage of summer clearance sales.

Happy (and Organized!) School Year!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies Part 2: The College Years, Part 3: The Traveling Student, Part 4: Organize the Student and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

We Talked. We Drank. We Got Organized!

This past Tuesday, I hosted my 1st ever Coffee and Conversation at Birdies Cafe.

Thanks ladies, for sharing that time with me. It was as I had imagined. Just a perfect opportunity to get women of different walks, interests, and ages together to encourage each other in our common pursuit of simplicity and organized living.

Yesterday’s topic was “Paper, Paper, Everywhere“. Yes, it is a universal problem!

Aside from discussing tips and habits for reigning in everyday mail and paperwork, we talked a bit about the overwhelming amounts of artwork that our little ones create. It’s a tricky, and often times, emotionally laden subject. We tend to feel that we have to save every single piece of artwork. As the months and years slip by, and with multiple children in the family, the artwork can take over! And when the volume is so great, it can become clutter rather than treasures.

When the artwork begins to overtake your home, it’s time to consider your options. The solution is twofold.

  • First of all you need to decide on a temporary display, what I will  call,  a “Creation Zone“, within your home. This might be in the kitchen, family room, playroom or your child’s bedroom.  When the creation zone is full of art, it’s time to take them down to make room for the next set of masterpieces.
  • Next, as you take down one group of artwork, simply pull out your favorites, your child’s favorites, or those pieces that truly show off your child’s personality and creativity and decide on a dedicated space to save these masterpieces. It can be as simple as a file box with hanging files for each year , a banker box with large envelopes for each year, or you can purchase an art file or or art box.

Mom’s (and Dad’s and Grandma and Grandpa!), check out these simple ideas for setting up a “Creation Zone” in which to display, cherish, and quickly and easily, change up your little one’s masterpieces…….

1. A tip from Tammy F. during Coffee and Conversation:

Gather all of your child’s artwork for the month (or the week, depending on the volume). Tape or tack them up on a wall and take a picture of your child in front of them. Next pick your favorites to save and store, and toss the rest. You are left with a chronicle of ALL their work, along with their current picture, and you have saved for the future.

Thanks, Tammy! This is an excellent tip that I will share with others!

2.  Check out this storage frames from Dynamic Frames.  This is a front-opening art cabinet with a latch. This frame can store up to 50 pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 artwork with the front piece being displayed. It couldn’t be any easier to display and change up your child’s artwork. It has a single bevel-cut mat and can be mounted to the wall vertically or horizontally, or it can be used tabletop with the stand that is included.

Easily Display and Store Your Child's Artwork

3. You can simply hang all your child’s creations for the week with clips along one wall in your home. Again, after this space is full, take out your favorites, and store them away, to make room for the next group of creations. Check out the 3 options below. Hang a curtain rod, equipped with  clips to hang their art. The picture below was posted on Make and Takes Blog, in an excellent article written by Heidi Smith of the Budget Wise Home Blog. Any clothes line with clip will work, or you can purchase the Work of Art Clips from The Land of Nod. Finally, try a simple cable system, as pictured below from West Elm.

Work of Art Displayed on a Curtain Rod

Work of Art Clips


It's So Easy to Display Artwork on a Cable System

3. Create a magnetic wall to simply display their artwork. It’s easy, quick, and fairly inexpensive. Magnetic paint is readily available at home centers. You can paint the area any color that you wish and trim it up with strips of molding, which can be nailed directly into the wall.

Make a "Creation Zone" with Magnetic Paint

Next, simply pull out your favorites, your child’s favorites, or those pieces that truly show off your child’s personality and creativity and decide on a dedicated space to save these masterpieces. Quickly and easily, create a portfolio with a file box hanging files for each year or a banker box with large envelopes for each year. Or you can purchase any number of products for a quick and easy solution.

  1. A quick and easy, home-made art portfolio:

A Home-made Art Portfolio

2. Check out The Art File from The Container Store. It is made of heavy fiberboard and has metal label holders on two sides.

The Art Storage Box


3. Finally, check out this expandable file by Alex Toys  made specifically for a  child’s artwork.

The options are unlimited. Get creative with your child, and design your own art portfolio!

Join us this Tuesday, April, 5th, as we tackle the subject, “Spring Cleaning, Really?”

I LOVE the IDEA of spring cleaning and actually having every surface of my home clean at the same time! But, I must say, I have 5 very good reasons NOT to spring clean. 5 acres, 4 kids, 3 cats, 2 goats, 1 dog, and only 1 life, and this life is ready to celebrate and enjoy spring!

So, come chat about the “how” of actually getting our homes in order, without being locked in our homes during what (is going to be!) a beautiful spring!

What:    Coffee and Conversation

Why:    To Get “In Order for Life”!

When:  Tuesdays, 9 AM, Spring

Where: Birdie’s Cafe, 233 East Main Street, Westminster, MD

Happy (and Organized!) spring!


Blog A Job! 2011 Part 3, The In-Home Consultation

If you have been following my blog, you met Jutz last week and you have gotten a glimpse of both her space and her personality.  This IS going to be a FUN job!

Life is Difficult for the Organizationally Impaired!

Always a girl with a sense of humor, during our 1st appointment, Jutz offered me a cup of tea. She handed it to me in a mug that read:

Life is Difficult for the Organizationally Impaired”!

But seriously, she is well aware that her organizational challenges are interfering with her productivity in her business.  And she is ready for that to change!

A Peak Inside!

Work Area is Lost to Clutter


We will be focusing on her studio space.  She works from her studio within her home, which houses her business, JCM Studio of Decorative Arts . JCM Studio of Decorative Arts provides Decorative Painting and Faux Finishing. This creative, inventive, and inspired studio space will be the focus of our organizing work and the 2011 Blog A Job!.  During the In-Home Consultation, Jutz shows me her studio space, which is literally crowding her and her business out. Because of the accumulation of clutter, she is not able to function as she needs to run her business.

The consultation is a time for me to ask many questions, as I get a feel for what she needs to accomplish in the space, how she works, what systems she currently has in place, and how we might improve on them or create new systems. At the same time I’m trying to get a picture of her vision for the finished project. How would she like this room to function? What tasks will be accomplished in this room? I take pictures, both to refresh my memory throughout the process, and to motivate us both along the way.

Surrounded By Her Flair!

Style Shines Through the Chaos!

As you can see, even in the midst of the chaos, Jutz is a woman with flair and style. As we were talking about her space, she said:

if given a choice between form and function, I choose form every time.

This is not a surprising quote coming from such a creative soul. In other words, she is almost always more concerned with how her space looks, rather than how it functions. So, clearly, my job is not just to strip it of all the “stuff”, but rather to create stylish, cool, and appealing organizing solutions that Jutz will be able thrive in. In the end, it needs to be both appealing and functional!

With this information in hand and pictures in my camera, I can begin to create a plan of action.

During our next appointment, the hard work will begin. Next week we will get down and dirty.

It generally gets worse, before it gets better. But, as you will soon see, the results are definitely worth it!

Check out  Blog a Job! 2011 Part 1: Watch a Professional Organizer in Action!, and Part 2: Meet Jutz!, and then check back next week to see how our work progresses.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!


Blog A Job! 2011 Part 1: Watch a Professional Organizer in Action!

Pic of Professional Organizer, CherylHave you ever wondered what a Professional Organizer actually does? Will she take over your home? Will YOUR mess shock her? Will she work for endless hours, working you right into the poor house?

You have the opportunity to have your questions answered, as you follow Cheryl Osterhouse, owner/operator of In Order for Life, LLC, in action. You will be able to witness the progress of a typical organizing project through each step of an actual organizing job. You will see first hand, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Let’s start at the beginning. When I get a call from a potential client, I am sensitive to the fact that it has taken much nerve, and often weeks or even months, to pick up the phone and make that call. Why is it so difficult to make that call? Why do we assume that everyone should naturally be organized? We each have gifts, strengths, and areas in life where we naturally excel. Organizing may or not be, one of your gifts.

I think creatively when it comes to organizing. Otherwise, NOT! I have finally come to terms with this fact. I’m on different teams and committees with some ridiculously creative people. They can brainstorm and come up with ideas, themes and programs in no time flat. Myself, not so much. I could come up with fresh and creative ideas, but at too high a cost. So, they come up with creative ideas, and I keep us organized. It works.

Gardening is another area where I do not excel. I enjoy gardening. I love the idea of gardening. I feel like I should be a gardener. After all, I live on 5 acres with great potential for beautiful gardens. Again, I have come to terms with the fact, that at this time in my life, gardening just is not one of my strengths. I simply don’t have time and energy for it. It’s OK. The stakes are low. I maintain the gardens around my house, and let the others go for now. Maybe one day………

So, what if you are not naturally organized? What if you simply haven’t learned organizing skills? Or, more likely, what if, in the midst of your crazy, ever-changing life, you haven’t had the opportunity to re-group and get reorganized? Well, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the stakes of maintaining a disorganized home, family, life, or business are high.

Being disorganized costs you financially, in loss of time, and emotionally. NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) estimates that the average American spends nearly an hour every day looking for simple things. That’s for the average American. If you consider yourself disorganized, chances are you spend more than an hour a day looking for things. Think what you could do with that extra time each and every day. Aside from wasting time, being disorganized can quickly lead to financial loss as well. Do you find yourself paying late fees on bills that you had the money to pay, only because you had misplaced the bill? Are you purchasing duplicate items because you simply can’t find or don’t have time and energy to look for the items that you know are around here somewhere? Are you running to fast food restaurants and purchasing pre-made dinners from the grocery store, not because you want to, but rather because you have to? In your business, are you missing out on potential clients and work because you have misplaced critical information?

Finally, do you feel burdened and overwhelmed by all the stuff surrounding you?  Are you unsure of which way to turn, where to start, or do you feel stuck?

Organizing is a skill to be learned. My favorite definition of organization comes from Julie Morgenstern in her book  Organizing from the Inside Out:

Organizing is the process by which we create environments that enable us to live, work, and relax exactly as we want to. When we are organized, our homes, offices, and schedules reflect and encourage who we are, what we want, and where we are going.”

That’s my job in a nutshell. I work with clients to create processes within their homes and within their lives that work for them.  And at the same time, teach them the skills necessary to maintain those processes.

At times I am called upon to assist with a specific room, while other times it may involve the entire home. Occasionally, the request for help is in the area of time and life management. In each situation, the process remains the same. I begin with a visit to the client’s home, at which time they have the opportunity to show me, first hand, their current situation. I ask many questions, attempting to get a feel for how they work, what systems they currently have in place, and how we might improve on them or create new systems. I will then create a plan of action personalized for both their budget and style. Finally, we jump right into the work. We work together as we sort, purge, and reorganize, one area at a time. I usually suggest specific homework, jobs that they can accomplish on their own, reducing the number of hours that we work together. They may, however, choose to have me work alongside them throughout the entire process. The choice is theirs. Throughout the process, it is my goal to teach my clients new skills,  giving them the tools and tips necessary to maintain their newly organized space.

So, come along with me as I work through an actual job, from beginning to end. My client has graciously agreed to allow me to blog her first experience working with a professional organizer. I thought it might be eye-opening for you to see how the process plays out through an actual job.  So, come along with us. Keep posted. Next week you will meet my very brave client, Jutz, as we check out her, very unorganized, chaotic, super fun, soon to be organized, space!!


Get In Order for Life in 2011!

A New Year, a new you, and a new organized life. Does that sound like something you have been yearning for?  If so, you are not alone. Getting Organized is consistently one of the top 5 New Year’s Resolutions of Americans.

Why is that? Why do so many Americans feel out of order and unorganized? I believe the answer is two-fold. First, most of us live at such a fast pace that we are simply overwhelmed. We plan too much, try to accomplish too much, shop too much, and generally run ourselves ragged. Secondly, many of us simply haven’t learned basic organization skills. Or, we have gotten out of the habit of practicing those skills that we may have learned and practiced in the past. Life is constantly changing, and so must our organizational habits, if we are going to keep ourselves, and our lives, in order.

Come along with me in 2011 as I offer some exciting, new, fun, learning opportunities for all who feel out of order. Come discover how to, slowly, but surely, clear the clutter, conquer the chaos, and learn simple organizing tips, tricks, habits, and strategies to get your home, your family, and your life in order. Getting Organized is a life long learning process that will simplify your time, and ultimately your life. It is a skill and a way of life that needs to be learned and re-learned, practiced and tweaked. So, come along with me, and take advantage of some of these enjoyable, unique learning opportunities!

I am thrilled to announce that I have partnered with The Clever Container Company, and will now be offering Clever Learning Parties and products. These fun parties combine organizing tips and techniques with  products to help simplify your life, in a fun relaxed setting. Simply gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! I am currently offering the following Clever Learning Parties:

  • Your Children, Organized!Clever Container Company Logo
  • Clutter Cutter
  • Closet Clean-Up
  • Kitchen Organization

Call Today to Schedule Your March Learning Party!

Join me for Coffee and Conversation many Tuesday mornings at Birdie's Cafe LogoBirdies Cafe, in Westminster, beginning this winter. This not-for-profit, group is for anyone who struggles with organizational challenges (all of us!). These fun, interactive chat sessions will help you discover how to, slowly, but surely, clear the clutter, conquer the chaos, and learn simple organizing tips, tricks, habits, and strategies to get your home, your family, and your life in order. Each week will highlight a specific organizing topic and/or issue, but will not be limited to that topic. Watch my website for specific dates, times and a schedule of featured topics. Email me to suggest a topic.

Join Me For A Cup of Simplicity!

Join NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Baltimore at IKEA Baltimore on Saturday, January 22, 11:00 am and 12:00 pm in the IKEA showroom. NAPO Baltimore members will be conducting short organizing workshops and giving expert organizing advice. I have the privilege of  conducting one of the home organizing workshop to demonstrate creative ways to use IKEA’s excellent organizing products. Please join me at the IKEA “Get Organized” Workshop!

January is “Get Organized Month”, and NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) members are qualified, equipped, and eager to assist you in your goals of organizing your time, homes, offices…….your lives!
Let’s make 2011 our “Get Organized Year”!

Finally, be sure to subscribe to our Blog, where you will learn very simple and practical habits and strategies to get “In Order for Life”. We will keep you up to date on the latest trends and products in the organizing community. If you journeyed with me these past few years, you will notice many of the same themes, topics and suggestions. Remember, it’s a skill and a way of life that needs to be learned and re-learned, practiced and tweaked. So, come along with me in 2011!

Happy (and Organized) days!


Energized by the NAPO Conference!

Cheryl Returns from the 22nd Annual Conference and Organizing Exposition

Last week, I returned from the 22nd Annual Conference and Organizing Exposition in Columbus, OH.  This 4 day conference draws professional organizers from around the globe. It was a fantastic and motivating time of connecting with and networking with colleagues, learning about the latest trends and resources in the organizing industry,  practical education, and motivation from inspirational keynote speakers.

Cheryl and Laura Leist, President, National Association of Professional Organizers

“NAPO’s Conference is the center of where our profession is happening.”

Cindy Sullivan, Cb Sullivan Consulting and Organizing

Keynote Speaker, Tim Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer for Yahoo, kicked off the conference with an inspiring message, sharing his secrets to business relationship success.  Friday, Gina Schreck, “The Geek Chick”, continued to motivate and challenge the audience, with her message about the value of technology in communications, connections and the business environment.

I was able to attend several breakout sessions where I learned valuable information about serving the elderly population as a professional organizer, strategies to organize clients with ADD/ADHD and using the NSGCD (National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization), Clutter Hoarding scale. Finally, I was inspired and motivated by Krista Green, of Krista Green International Inc., a recognized expert in the field of Branding Productivity & Organizing and Business.

The Conference concluded with an upbeat and inspirational message from Monica Wofford, of Monica Wofford International, who showed us how “contagious confidence” can inspire us to be the best we can be.

It is my earnest hope, desire and goal to take the knowledge, skills, inspiration and motivation gained through the conference to be the best Professional Organizer that I can be in the coming year.  It is both a pleasure and a privilege to serve in this dynamic, growing industry.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!


IKEA and Baltimore NAPO Join Forces

NAPO Baltimore Members

A great day was had by all this past Saturday as our NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Baltimore Chapter joined IKEA Baltimore in offering customers  two simultaneous, mini seminars covering closets and wardrobe systems organization, and home office/home businesses organization. This was part of Get Organized Month  – a national event sponsored by NAPO each year that is designed to highlight the benefits of the association and working with NAPO’s professional organizers.

Cheryl Helping In The Closet and Wardrobe Systems Organization Workshop

It was the perfect partnership as our NAPO members were able to teach customers the “how to” in putting to work IKEA’s  excellent organizing products and systems.  IKEA is known for their stylish and affordable home and office solutions.

If you haven’t taken a trip to IKEA recently, it’ s definitely worth the effort. With 2 locations in Maryland (College Park and Baltimore), and locations throughout the USA (and world wide!), you may just find a store near you. Check out their store directory. If there isn’t an IKEA near you, try IKEA Home Shopping, where you can order online.

Their stores are filled with smart and affordable ideas to furnish your dream home. You can easily make a day of it for the family! Bring your kids and they can play in the supervised playroom while you shop or you may choose to try out the furniture together.

Cheryl at the IKEA - NAPO Baltimore Organizing Event

Don’t forget to fuel up on energy at the IKEA restaurant for a meal, a snack or just a quick cup of coffee. Their restaurants offers you a relaxing atmosphere and a menu that satisfy most every taste at a price that satisfies every budget. You will also find special kid’s meals as well as baby food. And on your way out, stop by the Food Market and pick up some traditional Swedish specialties.

Happy (and organized!) Days!


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NEW Home Learning Parties!

Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email

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National Association of Professional Organizers